Sustainable, long-lasting gear, and a good camera - safari essentials.
We spotted all of the Big 5; buffalo, rhino, elephant, lion and leopard and discovered the many wonders of South Africa. The only not-so-fun part? Trying to figure out what to pack!
Here’s sharing the must-haves to make it easier on you:
1. Breathable, Weather-Versatile Layers
When you’re out for long stretches on your game drives, it can be warm and toasty in the sun, chilly when you’re headed out with the sunrise or if coming home under the stars (yes, it’s as magical as it sounds!).
Depending on your travel season, we're fans of this versatile, reversible Teca Cálido Hooded Vest, Jacket as a staple piece for its creative color combos (one bright/one neutral side), packability, and eco-conscious design with repurposed materials.
You also can’t go wrong with Zestt Organic’s all-in-one cape + shaw + blanket, beautifully made from certified organic cotton, great for the plane, coach and open-air safari jeep alike.
2. Sun protection: Hat, Sunglasses & Gaiters
Be prepared for any elements in style with the right, travel-friendly accessories.
KUHL’s Endurawax Bush Hat is lightweight, durable and wax-coated to deliver optimal wind and water resistance, plus has sweatband technology to keep you cool and 50+ UPF protection.
There are 12 ways to wear Insect Shield’s CoolNet UVF Buffs (made from 95% recycled water bottles!) for your face, head and neck, or check out their insect-repellant hats too.
3. Mosquito repellent
Your travel doctor should give you full guidance for your health and safety while traveling, but here’s extra protection you can count on from mosquito-borne diseases.
The Sawyer Permethrin clothing spray will cover four full outfits with odorless bug repellent. Simply spray on your clothes outdoors and let dry before wearing. One treatment will last up to six washings or six weeks before you’d need to reapply.
This travel size 2oz Ultrathon Insect Repellent Lotion has 34.34% DEET, it offers a high level of protection against mosquitoes, ticks, flies and other insects for up to 12 hours.
4. Reusable water bottle
Your safari guide will have plenty of replenishments on hand, but it never hurts to carry your own reusable bottle, checking with each property on water drinkability.
Prepare yourself for the ultimate journey with the Mizu 360 M9 Adventure kit with its single wall 30 stainless steel bottle, a straw lid and purifier that filters 99.99% of contaminants.
The collapsible, BPA-free 1L Stow Bottle from Hydrapak is 80% lighter than most hard bottles, which makes it a durable, flexible packing option.
Bonus packing hack – toss in the Bottle Sling Bag made from recycled bottles to keep your hydration handy when you leave the truck in search of tracks or better vantage points..
5. Your best camera & accessories
These are the once-in-a-lifetime moments you don’t want to miss, and they sometimes happen fast! Have your phone or camera at the ready at all times with these best-sellers.
The lightweight, silicone Gear Beast phone lanyard is compatible with most phones and typically won’t block the camera lens (be sure to check) to keep that phone camera at the ready.
Protect expensive cameras from the elements with Matador’s Camera Base Layer with fast, magnetic latch to open with one hand in those instant-access moments.
For whatever device you use, don’t forget to keep it as clean as possible. We love this Nikon Lens Cleaning cloth that fits into its own clip-on travel pouch.
While your guide should have a pair, in those fleeting moments you may not want to share. It’s worth packing your own rugged, travel-friendly binoculars.
This durable, waterproof 8 x 25 pair by Nocs Provisions weighs in at less than one pound with twist-up eyecups that work for smart phone photos and with your glasses.
To take it up a notch, the 8 x 42 Nikon Monarch 5 has been improved to weigh in at 20.8oz and is waterproof, fogproof and features great ED glass, which means sharper long-range viewing while on safari.
7. Versatile day bags
For those long days in the safari jeep and all your adventures out and about, you need the right day bag that’s also easy to add to your suitcase.
This machine-washable Travel Pack from Chico Bags stuffs down into its own travel pouch and as a bonus, it is made from recycled water bottles.
The Guidewater Sling - Black Hole Pack 23L from Patagonia is another responsibly-made and totally waterproof option if you're carrying expensive camera equipment or other items to protect, we like all their water-resistant options.
8. Comfort for the Long Journey
The flights and travel hours can be long through your Africa vacation, most of them with gear that gives you extra R&R along the way.
This soft fine knit Dreamsoft Travel Set from Zestt Organics with eye mask, throw and carry pouch will keep you cozy and chic whenever you travel.
And the genius Stuffable Pillowcase made from recycled materials from Rumpl turns your clothes into an instant pillow on the go.
Other travel tips for your African Safari? Try as many new foods and experiences as you can, get to know the warm and welcoming people you’ll meet, respect their guidelines for protecting the wildlife, then simply sit back and enjoy the ride!
Author Lauren Smith is an avid traveler to over 40 countries (and counting!) and Founder of sustainabletravelandliving.com, offering hundreds of carefully-vetted low-waste, recycled, non-toxic, give-back and other planet-friendly products for every day, every journey.